Management of Industrial Relations

Employee Discipline – Importance and Types of Employee Discipline

In organisations Discipline means situations in which all employees follow rules, regulations, and procedures of the organisation while discharging their tasks, duties, and responsibilities. Maintaining discipline among employees is an integral part of the functions of management. It is essential to promote and maintain discipline for higher productivity and industrial growth. A disciplined workforce can meet the challenge of competition and can achieve organisational objectives in a better way. Discipline also improves morale, labour relations and cooperation among employees.

Importance of Employee Discipline

(1) Corrects Behaviour – Employee discipline helps in correcting the behaviour of a worker through instruction instead of punishing him.

(2) Provides Protection – Conduct of an employee affects other employees too. Employee discipline is a way of, protecting other workers who put in their time and talent at the workplace. With a clear and effective employee-discipline plan in place, employees know the consequences of their conduct. This streamlines providing information about employee behaviour and provides a sense of security to employees. This ensures the right to protection to which every employee is entitled.

(3) Improves Performance – A transparent employee-discipline programme can deal effectively with problems like absenteeism, tardiness, missing deadlines or not adhering to other codes of conduct at the workplace. Employee discipline indirectly helps employees to put their time to best use.

(4) Increases Organisation’s Gain – Other than ensuring protection, an effective employee-discipline code creates a congenial environment in ‘which employees can work. This increases their output, which translates into increased profit for an organisation. Also in today’s world of easy communication, a company with a strong reputation of employee discipline can retain employees as well as attract more talent.

Types of Employee Discipline

(1) Positive Discipline – Positive or self-imposed discipline connotes a state of order in an organisation. Positive discipline employs constructive force to secure its compliance. It is immeasurably more effective and plays a greater role in business management. Employees believe in and support discipline and adhere to the rules, regulations and desired standards of behaviour. Discipline takes the form of positive support and reinforcement for approved actions and its aim is to help the individual in moulding his behaviour and developing him in a corrective and supportive manner.

According to Spriegel, “Positive discipline enables an employee to have a greater freedom in that he enjoys a greater degree of self- expression in striving to achieve the group objective, which he identifies as his own”. In short, it can be said that positive discipline prevails only where the employees have a high morale.

(2) Negative Discipline – The negative approach to discipline is a traditional concept. Employees sometimes do not believe in’ and support disciplinÄ—. As such, they do not adhere to rules, regulations and desired standards of behaviour. As such, disciplinary programme forces and constraints the employees to obey orders and functions in accordance with set rules and regulations through warnings, penalties and other forms of punishment.

According to Spriegel, “Negative discipline is the force that prompts an individual or a group to observe the rules, regulations and procedures which are deemed to be necessary to the attainment of an objective”.

(3) Progressive Discipline – It is a popular form of discipline adopted successfully by many organisations in maintaining discipline among their employees. Progressive discipline requires an organisation to adopt a step-by-step approach in dealing with the indiscipline problems of an employee. While dealing with the discipline issues concerning the employees, this method suggests that the organisation begin the disciplinary action process with a modest disciplinary action. Then increase the degree of severity gradually and finally end-up with the most severe punishment if the successive stages of punishment do not yield the desired change in the behaviour of the employees. A progressive disciplining of an employee may begin with the hiring of an employee and can continue through his entire work life in the organisation. It may even lead to his suspension and ultimate dismissal.

Progressive discipline may be defined as any employee discipline system that provides a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct problems. Although progressive discipline is similar to positive discipline, it differs on one basic aspect, which is the gradually growing and proportionate punishment to the employees. The extent of punishment depends on the frequency and severity of the performance and behaviour problem and the length of service of the employee.

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